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Mice On Stilts - An Ocean Held Me CD (album) cover


Mice On Stilts


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 85 ratings

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Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I love surprises. I had never heard of Mice on Stilts from New Zealand, but after being introduced to them, I can't see myself forgetting them. These guys play an extraordinary brand of progressive rock featuring an eclectic array of instruments and a concise, inspired skill in songwriting. Their new EP is called "An Ocean Held Me", and I can't help but be drawn in by their ambition and maturity.

Like I said, the band plays an eclectic form of progressive rock. They call it "cinematic doom folk". Honestly, I don't really get the "doom" part of it, though the music is rather melancholy or even eerie. However, the other two labels are perfect, especially "folk", as it dominates in much of their sound. Their music also mixes in a decent amount of jazz, evident in the use of saxophone and trumpet. Speaking of, I really enjoy the instruments on this five-song EP. In addition to the standard instruments, Mice on Stilts utilizes the viola, sax, and trumpet. They use them liberally, too, not as gimmicks. The result is an organic touch to the music that just feels right.

The band, I must say, are excellent musicians. From the nocturnal peals of the sax to the excellent variety of keys to the well-executed drums, all of the instruments are played with respect, finesse, and a maturity that denotes love. The vocals are also wonderful, as they remind me of Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance, only with an indie influence of sorts. This slower, haunting style of vocals adds to the melancholy atmosphere. Imagine then, this mood surrounded by colorful instrumentation and personality. The cover art, then, makes sense now, right? A dark, brooding figure strolls along the beautiful, colorful ocean.

"An Ocean Held Me" is one of those albums where each song is more impressive than the last. It begins with the sublime, atmospheric sound of the saxophone. This excellent introduction begins a wonderful, yet short, journey through the velvet "Syd's Socks", the driving and lovesick "Binocular Bath", and the fuzzy, folksy ambiance of "A Moss Ocean". Just when I didn't think it could get any better, along comes the classic, jazzy "Vulnerable Vader", and, lastly, my favorite track "Tuatara Lawn", not only the longest song, but also full of atmosphere, excellent guitars, and Pink Floyd influence.

By the end of this EP, I was hooked. The sheer variety of style and expertise made ignoring this band impossible. Not only is the musical style varied, but I love the diversity of the instrumental styles. Ben Morely on guitars can be just as effective in a dark, driving format as he is in an atmospheric form. Drummer Rob Sander is amazing whether keeping time or blowing us away with some serious pounding. Bassist Sam Nash knows how to stay low key, but he also knows how to drive the music viscerally. The same goes for everyone else, too. Nick Wright on piano, Sam Hennessy on viola, and Aaron Longville on the horns all show their maturity while impressing me with their control. Folksy or pensive or moody, they can play to fit emotions and colors.

Mice on Stilts is a band that deserves attention. In a world where many have forgotten to progress and push boundaries, this band does it with ease and with class. Jazz collides with folk music and progressive rock to form a formidable and vivid backdrop to the emotions and vulnerability that the lyrics and vocals express. It's a collision of different moods and different styles to great effect every time. If you love good music and artistic integrity, support Mice on Stilts.

Second Life Syndrome | 5/5 |


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